Gold! Gold! Gold!
Historic photograph of the original claim post at Discovery Claim © Cantwell Photo, Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections, VPL 33087
In 1897 the cry reverberated around the world heralding the arrival of the SS Portland in Seattle – just two days after the SS Excelsior had arrived in San Francisco – each carrying newly rich miners from the recently discovered Klondike Gold Fields in the remote northern reaches of western North America. And the rush to the Klondike was on!
The Klondike Gold Rush was the last of the great gold rushes which marked the last half of the 19th C. Beginning with the California Rush of 1849, successive gold strikes in the Western Cordillera of North America moved ever further northward – the P'end Orielle & Fraser River Rushes in the 1850's, the Cariboo Rush of 1862-3, Cassiar and Juneau in the mid 1870's and the smaller Rushes in the Yukon River Basin at Forty Mile and Circle which set the stage for the great Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-98.
The Klondike Gold Rush transformed the face of the north, creating a new Canadian Territory and turning the American purchase of Alaska from folly to fortune. Where there had been only a couple of riverboats supplying the entire region, there were now fleets of riverboats working both upriver and down from Dawson City. As would be Klondike prospectors fanned out through the region making new gold finds –Nome on the Alaskan coast, Atlin in northern British Columbia –an unknown backwater became the new land of opportunity.
In 1998 on the 100th Anniversary of the great rush the Canadian and American governments signed a joint declaration creating the Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park to commemorate this shared chapter in the history of the north. Collectively the individual sites which make up the international park tell the story of what was the last great gold rush.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Seattle Unit
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska
Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada
"The Thirty Mile" Yukon River, Canadian Heritage Rivers System
Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada